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  #1  
Old 12-05-2005, 11:31 PM
groovymcawesome groovymcawesome is offline
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Default Serious problem - dog terrified

Have two mutts. They're both siblings, 1 year old. One is fine. The other's terrified of everything. He's gotten used to remotes, phones, etc...Little things.

Where I'm having serious problems is with baths and clipping his nails. Anything where he has to be restrained. Wouldn't be that big a problem if he wasn't 70 lbs. He's very strong. I'm also strong, so he cannot escape, but he'll try to the point he's really going to injure himself.

I'm very good to my dogs. I don't hit them in any way, but I'm not one of the "kill 'em with kindness" people. I'm the boss in my house. I'm very stern, but fair. I've raised three EXTREMELY well behaved dogs that love me to death. Including this one. And I've trained them very fast with my methods.

But whenever it's bath time or time to clip his nails, he panics. He struggled so hard to get away once that he crapped himself. In the past, I've held panicky dogs in the bath until they stopped fighting and realized they weren't going to die. They usually get used to it pretty quickly.

Tonight was the last straw. I was sitting on the floor getting ready to clip his nails. As soon as he saw the clippers he ran. I grabbed him and made him sit, while I just tried to touch his feet with them to get him used to them. He started struggling and doing everything within his power to get away. Didn't work, but for one hour (not an exaggeration) he fought me. One hour straight. He didn't once pause to catch his breath.

How do I get him to loosen the hell up? I've never beat him or hurt him (though he's tempted me) so he shouldn't be scared of that. I'm at my wit's end.

Any thoughts?
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  #2  
Old 12-06-2005, 12:47 AM
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How do I get him to loosen the hell up? I've never beat him or hurt him (though he's tempted me) so he shouldn't be scared of that. I'm at my wit's end.
Well, first of all, I'd recommend that you loosen up and forget the need to dominate and be stern with your animals. I'm sure he can totally feel your blood just at the boiling point under the surface. That right there can make your dog frightened and uneasy, distrustful. He'll tend to trust you more with frightening things like clipping nails if instead of trying to tackle the situation by force, restraint etc, you condition the dogs to nail clipping or anything which is frightening to them. It can take days or weeks but you'll have a trusting animal who will not struggle to avoid these things.

Anytime you want to teach your dog something, you'll get a lot further by creating an enjoyable time associated with whatever you're doing. Nail clipping is not fun for a dog, sometimes it hurts.... so if you can make it the best you can, you'll have much more success.

What I would suggest is that you sit down in a relaxed manner along side the dog and give a treat, a belly rub...something he likes. Play a little gentle game. Have the clippers sitting on the coffee table where he can see them. (now that he's so freaked out, this is going to take you longer than if you hadn't used such force before) Later in the day, do the same thing, only hold the clippers. Don't do anything to him with the clippers. If he runs off, forget it. Don't do anything. Wait till he comes over for a treat.

Now your treat will need to be something stupendous. A bowl of ice cream would be fun and just give him a small spoonful whenever he is Ok with the sight of the clippers. When he is comfortable with that, touch his nails, stroke his toes with your fingers only. Keep giving him small spoonfuls of ice cream as long as he's staying and letting you do this. Praise, using a happy, playful, party time voice. Then advance to trying to touch one nail, tap one nail and praise like crazy if he's Ok with it. If not, go back to the previous stage. Do this for a few days, maybe adding one, then another few nails...tap, tap, scrape. No clipping yet. When he's comfortable and relaxed with that....it might take a few days or more, then try clipping the tiniest token of the end of one nail. Praise and treat big time. Don't do anymore till the next day. End on a good note where he's successful and happy. It's better to have long nails and take your time conditioning him to this than to have short nails NOW and have a frightened, distrustful dog. Good luck. Let us know how you do, if you decide to do it this way rather than by restraint and force. That always will tend to frighten an animal. Best wishes.
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  #3  
Old 12-06-2005, 01:20 AM
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SummerRiot SummerRiot is offline
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For the bath issue.. Riot, my pup, used to be scared of bath time, he'd wimper, howl, bark, squirm, splash me, try jumping out, push all of the shampoo bottles over in his efforts to get out. I eventually taught him the word "bath" and he'll now jump in and stand there - NO restraint needed for a bath.

All you have to do is have patience!!!!!!! If your dog is food oriented and motivated, reward them as SOON as they are near the bath, then gradually make it so they are in the same room as the bath, then touching the bath, and then finally in the bath tub.
Its Always baby steps with dogs. Since they can not actually speak English, its harder to explain things to them in our language. If you stop and try to give them body cues that they will understand, they will listen and speak back(in body cues).

When Riot was first getting used to having a bath, i'd treat him whenever he'd stand still and be quiet. So, he soon realized that it was great fun to be in the bath... Now I can't get him away from water. hes in lakes, streams, ponds, the bath, tries to get in the sink.. lol

Its all in patience.

Try and get the dog used to it when you AREN'T actually intending to bath him. Maybe, while your in the shower, have the dog in the room with you with the door shut, so they can see that you aren't dying in the shower either.
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Old 12-06-2005, 01:44 AM
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Great advice Summer riot.

Anytime you're in a power struggle with your dog, you get no where, as you found out after an hour of fighting with your dog. You make a dog fear and distrust you that way. If you turn your thinking around from thinking you have to be this big boss, dominating, forcing, coercing, struggling....turn it to, "how can I make it so the dog thinks it's his idea, so that the dog is motivated to meet me half way?" Dog's and humans work together...always have. One cannot have dominion over the other and have a complete workable, trusting, bonded relationship.

They deserve respect, just as you would if an adult human being were afraid of getting their nails clipped, would you hold them down and force them or would you have a talk or show them that it was OK and safe? We have a different language than dogs but they still deserve our utmost respect and patience because it's not their fault that they don't understand our language and our human ways. This isn't something they do in nature, clipping nails, so we have to show them carefully and slowly until they understand. And for them to listen, they have to feel safe and trust us. Forceably holding a dog down and dominating them causes them to shut down and become defensive. This is natural for them.

I do hope you can change your thinking so that you won't have stumbling blocks along the way. Most things go along fine for you because dogs are weaker and we can easily over power them in most ways. But that is not the way to have the best bond with your dog. I encourage you to learn new ways of interacting with your babies.

Here's something that is most effective. It is a gentle and fun way of teaching your dogs anything. It talks about shaping behavior, modifying and conditioning behavior without any force or punishment of any kind. It works. It makes for a very happy relationship between dog and owner. I highly recommend that you study this over. Even if you don't use a clicker, the method is very effective.

http://www.dogpatch.org/obed/obpage4.cfm

Best wishes.
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Old 12-06-2005, 09:48 AM
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Angelique Angelique is offline
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Great advice has been given here to help you help your dog.

One thing to keep in mind, there could be something going on in this dog's brain which is not allowing him to "snap out of it", once he is in a panicked state. I've only dealt with one dog, which did something similar. He was a rescue dog with a slightly misshaped skull. I don't know if he was born that way or not. His eyes were "normal", but without extensive and expensive tests by an expert, who knows what was going on inside of this dog's brain?

I don't know if your dog had any trauma to his brain during birth or when he was young. But, I would not rule this out.

Just an observation, I don't know what you can do with this information, but if your dog is not snapping out of these panic attacks, I would not recommend continuing to restrain him based on what you've already told us.

I'm sorry you and your dog are going through this.
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Last edited by Angelique; 12-06-2005 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 12-06-2005, 10:11 AM
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Wow Angelique. That would be terrible. Well, then if you go really gradually, (say....take 2-4 weeks conditioning him) without any restraint and he still doesn't make any progress, you might consult a vet about this. Let us know. You're in my thoughts.
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Old 12-06-2005, 10:15 AM
groovymcawesome groovymcawesome is offline
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Thanks for some of the advice. I'll give most of it a shot. I'm still going to be firm with him, as dogs crave discipline. Just like kids. When we're struggling, I remain calm. I just don't let him go, because at that point he's won, and he'll begin to learn that he can get away if he just fights long enough. When they're in a pack, the alpha dog will grab the back of their neck until they submit. Treats don't really help. He doesn't pay attention to them when he's scared. I guess we'll just be having nail clipping time every night, whether we trim them or not. Bath time too.
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Old 12-06-2005, 11:43 AM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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I just don't let him go, because at that point he's won, and he'll begin to learn that he can get away if he just fights long enough.
Won? Is this war? If you let him go away and motivate him to return, he'll feel that he CAN get away and feel more secure. When you corner an animal, you put him into his fight or flight drive....on an extreme defensive and you never reach the animal mentally. Dealing with our animals shouldn't be a power struggle for who is the stronger. That's counter productive to say the least.

Quote:
Treats don't really help. He doesn't pay attention to them when he's scared.
Of course he can't pay attention or learn anything. When in fight or flight mode, a dog's ability to think, using his conscious part of his brain doesn't work. He's on pure instinct at that point. His brain is operating at the level of the autonomic nervous system.

I've had dogs for close to 45 years and trained for about 30..... various breeds, now a "strong willed" Doberman and I've never had that philosophy about them. Discipline yes, harshness or force, no. Discipline means teaching. It does not mean intimidating. And by your actions, your dog is freaking out.

I have done pretty extensive study and research of wolf and dog behavior in school as well as independently for a very long time as well as steady, practical experience.

Wolves don't do a lot of the things people think they do. These misconceptions are based on old, disproven, unscientifically done studies of wolves in captivity. Also, domestic dogs are not wolves. And we are not dogs or wolves.

I guarentee you, barring any medical problems that if you go about it the way I described, you will over come your dog's fears.

I did exactly this method with a dog who would not only react with fear, but became downright vicious,(in his defensiveness) attacking, biting, absolutely "vicious." The reasons for his extreme reaction were because he was handled the same way you're handling your dogs...held down, forced, spoken "firmly" to when the dog was clearly frightened. In three days time, I had this dog tolerating clipping all the nails. Dogs learn, like all mammals do, using scientific learning theory.

By use of this philosophy of gentle handling, conditioning, all three of my dogs, my Doberman and two Chihuahuas have their nails trimmed with an electric Dremel...noisy and vibrating. And they look forward to the treats and sit nicely to have their nails filed. (don't try a Dremel without full instructions) I never once have associated anything negative or forceful with this procedure. I have never had trouble clipping any one of dogs' nails or bathing them....posting ears with tape, expressing anal glands, cleaning ears, brushing teeth or anything else. My dogs trust me completely and are never put on the defensive. They know that nothing I do to them is associated with fear or pain.

I strongly recommend you look into another way of communicating with your dog. Obviously, your being the forceful "alpha" isn't working very well.

Last edited by Doberluv; 12-06-2005 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 12-06-2005, 11:45 AM
Fran27 Fran27 is offline
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You forget one detail though... we're not dogs. And the dogs know it. So using strength to get what you want doesn't make the dog respect you, it makes them fear you.
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Old 12-06-2005, 01:43 PM
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Angelique Angelique is offline
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Aside from the fact that your dog may have a problem with his brain...

I have a found a few things to be true:

Dogs and kids don't crave discipline. They need structure, security, and boundries in addition to compassion, love, and meeting their basic "pysical" survival needs.

Dogs who were raised in their home environment, (not addopted at an older age), were either advertantly or inadvertantly "conditioned" into their behavior problems by someone who didn't take into consideration that the dog may be a little more sensitive than most dogs.

Dogs do not trust "unstable" leaders who exert force upon them for being afraid. If you're frustrated or angry, (which you obviously are), the dog can "read" this in your facial expressions and demeanor, even if you think you are being calm. This dog does not trust you.

Leaders don't get into "power" struggles with subordinates. The fact that you wrestled this dog for an hour, only proved to the dog that you are not a leader.

Bottom line for me, is rehome the dog to someone who understands how to treat a dog properly, instead of venting and dominating him because you've had a bad day and just may be a bit of a control freak.

I hope your paying attention to this post because people who come here looking for the "OK" to abuse their dogs under the "guise" of training will soon be ignored.

Are you paying attention yet? Or should I hold you down on the floor and trim your toenails, until you cry "UNCLE!".

Have a nice day!
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************************************************** ***********************************

Reward the good, ignore the bad, and always remember to duck during the temper tantrums!

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds" Albert Einstein

Here's to you, Jane Goodall. So much insight into the mind of a species from someone who's never trained a single chimp.
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